What turns the 4th Thursday of November into Thanksgiving? Turkey? I know one family who doesn’t like turkey. Their traditional Thanksgiving meal is Vietnamese carryout. But whatever our food traditions, is that all there is? Not if we plan real thanks into the day.
If we want to give thanks, we need only two things. Something we’re thankful for and somebody to thank. Seems so obvious, but I think I need to say it because it’s amazing how many people can say, “I’m thankful for _____ ,” without admitting that God is there to hear their thanks. And they’re certainly not giving him credit for whatever it is they’re enjoying.
Maybe we can get ready for Thanksgiving by giving someone else a reason to give thanks. It might be by food donations we make ahead of time. Or it might be through invitations to our table—someone with no relatives nearby, a newly-arrived refugee family, a lonely neighbor, international students from a nearby college.
And then, how will we express our thanks to God? Perhaps there’s a posterboard on the wall where anyone during the day can write or draw pictures of what he’s thanking God for. Perhaps one of the children will make place cards with a verse of thanks on each, to be read sometime during the meal. Maybe this is a good day to pull out the year’s journals or photo albums or videos to remind each other of all that God has done in our lives this year.
And maybe Dad will begin the meal by leading in a thankful song and reading some words from Scripture:
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods. . . .
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
(Psalm 95:1-3, 6-7)